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What to Do After a House Fire

iStock_000000616707_SmallImagine that the unthinkable has happened, and be prepared in the event this happens to you.

Immediately after discovering the fire:

  • Get all family members out of the house. Do not attempt to go back inside the house for any reason. You should have important documents locked in a fireproof box, and copies of family photos should be backed up via a cloud storage system. Trust that your preventive methods will work.
  • Use your cell phone or go to a neighbor’s house and report the fire.
  • Listen carefully to instructions you are given by police and firefighters.

After the fire has been extinguished:

  • Don’t attempt to go back into your home until the fire marshal tells you it is safe to do so. You may be allowed to re-enter the home, depending upon the amount of damage, to retrieve personal items such as jewelry, your purse, etc.
  • Keep in mind that you may be asked to fill out forms regarding items you remove from the home. You may not be allowed to remove certain items, such as electrical devices, because they may have caused the fire.
  • Don’t attempt to move your car, if it is badly damaged, until officials tell you it is safe to do so.
  • Ask for a contact number of someone at the fire department. After the initial shock wears off, you will have questions.
  • Ask for the date and time of the walk-through of your property. Communicate this information to your homeowners insurance agent.
  • Consider contacting a local security company about securing your property, if you won’t be living there for a while.
  • If contacting all of your family and they can direct recovery efforts.
  • Talk to your homeowners insurance agent about temporary housing accommodations.
  • If you have to stay somewhere else,u pdate your bank, utility companies, credit card companies, your employer, schools, and at least one neighbor with your new address.
  • Start making a list of items you lost in the fire. If you lost your photographic evidence, talk to friends and family who may have taken pictures in your home during gatherings.
  • Designate one credit card for all of your post-fire purchases (hotel rooms, clothing, food, etc). This will help you keep track of these expenses.
  • Contact the Red Cross. They may have more resources that can help you.